Two separate themes weave their way though our pages this month. The first is how to stay the course and improve your practice through stronger business relationships. The second is when to throw in the towel.

Two of our contributors, Rick Rummage and Todd Colbeck, weigh in on the first theme. Colbeck gives a thorough lesson on centers of influence: how to find them and how to develop them. Rummage offers details on the next step of the advisor-client relationship. That is, once you've got a new client, how do you keep him or her. After all, clients have many options for financial advice, so what's their impetus to stay with you? He tells you how to answer that question.

Freelance writer Lauren Barack and Lipper analyst Andrew Clark tackle the second theme. Barack writes our Producer Profile this month on two Wells Fargo advisors who know when to walk away. They meticulously cut their client list to focus on the good ones. They took the old 80/20 rule-of-thumb to heart, and to its logical conclusion, and eliminated the clients who were simply not worth it. And Clark writes about the difficulties of selling stock, the dreaded exit strategy. But it's important and advisors need to know how, and when, to run.

And this is all before we even get to our cover story. We took our annual look at the third-party marketing industry. TPMs are often regarded as behind-the-scenes mechanics, but they can just as easily be viewed as a proxy for the bank channel. And as such, the channel has much to celebrate. TPMs are taking an optimistic view of the future, with the one oft-cited caveat that they can't seem to find enough good advisors to hire.

So if you doubt the bright future of the channel, or you're looking for a job as a bank advisor, take heart. The overarching themes in the industry look good, even if you have to throw in the towel now and then.

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